Creating a holistic ESG program one step at a time

  • Now on Now
  • Solutions
  • 2022
  • Edua Dickerson
December 14, 2022

ESG program: a sapling growing in a crack of concrete casting a shadow of a fully grown tree

Well-intentioned business leaders around the world have created a raft of ambitious environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals. But the top-of-mind question for customers, investors, and board members alike is “How will they actually achieve them?” A strong, well-governed ESG program is essential to both making a positive impact and growing a successful business.

Every organization is at a different stage of its unique ESG journey, but one common theme is clear: The demand for holistic ESG data management and reporting transparency has never been greater.

Pressure is mounting to show measurable progress on stated goals, from reducing carbon emissions to attracting and retaining outstanding talent to nurturing a more sustainable supply chain. It’s no surprise that compiling information from diverse sources into one central place isn’t easy or particularly accurate.

Companies often capture their ESG-related data across a variety of spreadsheets and emails. As a recovering auditor, I can tell you that manually inputting data in siloed software tools is tedious, difficult, and error-prone. It often leads to widespread issues with data integrity and auditability, knowledge capture, and retention.

ESG challenges by C-level

Automating ESG reporting for efficiency

When ServiceNow began developing an ESG Management solution for customers to address their ESG data needs, the global impact team and I eagerly got on board. We immediately put the solution to good use to help us create our Global Impact Report 2022, a report card of our ESG progress for the year.

The global impact team oversees ESG reporting and disclosures, both internally and externally. Historically, we had to manually track corporate ESG goals and targets to collect accurate metrics and documentation in order to produce audit-ready ESG disclosures.

We saw right away that using the ServiceNow ESG Management solution could help us categorize and vet our metrics. It helps us track our performance far more efficiently than ever before. ESG Management makes it much easier for us to:

  • Effectively advance and scale ESG performance and transparently report our progress

  • Formalize and streamline our ESG data collection, validation, and approvals in one place

  • Create external disclosures aligned with ESG reporting frameworks

Unifying ESG data for better governance

Since adoption, we’ve used ESG Management to create a repeatable, auditable process for collecting, verifying, and approving ESG data. We’ve mapped data collection to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) reporting frameworks, commonly acknowledged as authorities in the field. This was no easy feat, given we verify and report more than 300 metrics each year.

The result is a central location for data collection, documentation, and audit trails from metric owners and approvers all over the company. Important information is consolidated rather than spread across multiple emails and spreadsheets in various SharePoint folders.

Having the framework-aligned ESG indicators alongside the data entry fields has allowed our stakeholders to quickly understand the context and purpose of each indicator and to provide appropriate evidence and attribution where needed.

ESG Management also enables the global impact team to centrally review and approve data entries by stakeholders. It helps us ensure accountability and rigor through collection and approval workflows that meet ESG data accuracy and auditability expectations. In addition, it gives us better visibility into the data we’re disclosing.

Our own ESG strategy and reporting team has helped shape the product through many rounds of testing and feedback. We’re excited that our involvement has resulted in better functionality and a seamless user experience for our customers.

Adopting new features for better engagement

Our global impact team assumed the role of customer zero to add our hands-on perspective to the evolution of the product. We work closely with the product team to provide advice and guidance on the user experience, functionality, and tool integrations through many rounds of testing and feedback. We’re excited our involvement has resulted in better functionality and a seamless user experience for customers.

We’re taking advantage of newly available features introduced as part of the Now Platform Tokyo release, such as a spreadsheet-style data entry user interface, which enhances collaboration and engagement.

Our next step is to further automate our metric collection efforts by adding new sources for energy and carbon data; metrics for diversity, equity, and inclusion; and supplier tracking and costs. We’ll also broaden our scope to include other disclosures, such as EcoVadis and the S&P Global Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA).

We plan to adopt the ESG Command Center, which integrates ESG Management with Strategic Portfolio Management (our project planning and management tool) and integrated Risk Management (our Governance, Risk, and Compliance product). The ESG Command Center already uses some functionality from these products, such as authority documents, goals, and targets.

ESG programs can help organizations like ours do the right thing and stand out in the marketplace. Using our own technology helps us efficiently monitor performance, simplify reporting, and turn intention to impact as we achieve—and ideally surpass—our ESG goals.

Find out more about how ServiceNow ESG Management can help your organization.

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